Things for Grown-ups to Remember

Children, tweens and teens have capacities to see the ridiculous and the cruel that we have lost as grown-ups.  It is sad, as the world would certainly be a better place if we could stay in touch with sympathetic and empathetic feelings as easily as kids do.  They simply can’t help it.  It is part of them to ‘smell a rat’ and to see the truth in any situation.  They usually know if someone is lying.  They sense when someone is being put down unfairly.  That’s often why they can get so hurt or upset if a teacher yells at someone. They know that teasing is not funny or fun.  They sense when someone is hurting.  They know who really loves them.

I could go on and on as a psychologist and an educator about this subject.  However, the most important thing I can teach you as a parent or a teacher or a relative or friend of a child, is to be aware that their sensory apparatus is often much more accurate than yours.  You may be sick of that whiny puppy.  Your niece knows that her older brother has been teasing the puppy and the puppy doesn’t like it.  You may think that your niece’s parents squabble too much.  Your niece may be sick at heart that Daddy puts down Mommy when it isn’t always fair.  You may dismiss your son’s concerns about his teacher who he claims yells too much, as just his way of trying to not stay on top of his homework.  He may realize that she tends to yell at 3 particular children too much and too publicly and that those kids are identified because of her focus on them as the ‘bad’ kids in class.  You may think that your four year old is driving you mad with questions and you can’t wait until she is older and asks less.  You may not understand how pressing it is for her to get answers and better understand this mad, confusing universe that she has just been put into four years ago!

And so the list could go on and on.

My hope is that you will take a moment to think about the beauty of what I am sharing.  Our little ones have wisdom and a capacity for knowing what is right that we have often let go of, or covered over with the stress and strain of being a Grown-up.  Let them help you relax and see the world again from their perspective!  You will laugh and you may cry at times.  But you will become a kinder person and you will more often be helpful, and on target with a situation, as you see The Truth!

Growing Up Isn’t Easy!

In The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) the girl talks, at times, about not wanting to grow up.

Feelings about not wanting to grow up are common and often not discussed, as kids realize that most of the time parents expect them to want to grow up.

We as adults have often forgotten about how hard it is to move into adolescence. The bodily changes alone, are overwhelming. How many of us suffered with pimples, anxieties about getting our period, and all sorts of other issues? Just about all of us, although these issues may seem very far away now. I remember some mood swings that seemed to come out of the blue when I was 11. Hormones raging through my body, I’m sure didn’t help.

We have to be compassionate and helpful to those young ladies in our lives who are transitioning. Giving advise, and sharing about our own ups and downs as we moved through those years can take the pressure off a lot of what is happening.

The girl in The Truth realizes there are some great things about not being a grown-up yet. For example, she doesn’t have to earn a living. She can focus most of her attention on herself, her school work and other interests. Later in life it is harder to focus on ourselves. Multi-tasking takes over and there is little time for self-development.

At the same time, it is for most of us, a blessing to be part of a family of some sort, and to have a chance to participate in raising children. It is often exciting to work at a job and to have the power to make decisions about the course of our lives.

So really, all stages of life have their benefits and their losses. If we can stay light hearted as we see some of the pluses and minuses and keep a sense of humor, we can have such fun talking to kids about our stage of life as well as listening to the successes and frustrations that our kids feel about their lives.

The simple message is: Keep sharing. Your daughter will grow up even if she doesn’t want to for the moment. Don’t panic. Keep talking and sharing. Laugh and cuddle. Spend time together and give her your wisdom. But…make sure your don’t block out hers! She has wisdom also! Enjoy listening to it.

Every Child Has Questions About Growing Up

I remember as a child wondering what it would be like to be a grown-up.  I wondered how my body would change and when.  I also wondered what it would be like to be able to make decisions that to me as a child, seemed momentous, such as buying a car or a home.  These any many other questions are all normal.  But unfortunately parents often forget that their children have, what is to them, very serious questions that need answers.  Parents often treat the questions as trivial or even silly.  Some parents may even laugh out loud at a child when she asks something they think is ridiculous.  Other parents may walk away, perhaps embarrassed to handle the subject being questioned, or maybe considering it unimportant and just looking to get on with their day.
As a psychologist I am very concerned about parental practices that are dismissive of kid’s questions.  Most kids are asking sincere questions.  These questions reflect their uncertainties about things that seem important to them. The correct answers not only quiet their anxieties and fears but give them the tools they need to move ahead in development.  So here are some tips for you:
1.  Assume any question from you child is not a joke and treat it with dignity.  Answer as best you can and make sure to leave the door open that you can discuss that issue again.
2.  If you can’t answer it at that moment tell her when you can get back to her with an answer and discussion.
3.  If you are not the right person to answer the question, help her find the right person.
4.  Give her examples from your own past as to how you successfully handled issues that come up as we grow and change.
5.  Check back with her later or in the foreseeable future to see if she has more questions on a particular subject.  That way you give her a secure feeling that she can ask more if she needs to.

Helping Your Daughter To Be Less Nervous About Starting a New School Year

Starting a new school year, whether your daughter is returning to a school building she has gone to before, or you have moved and all is new for her, can be very upsetting. You may find your daughter nervous, perhaps tearful, not sleeping well or wishing she could go to a different school or even not go to school. Here are some ideas to help your daughter adjust:

Reassure her that it is normal to be nervous before we start anything new, even if we have done the same routines in the past. Tell her that you realize that sixth grade is not fifth grade, etc. and that you are on her side.

If you have moved or she will be changing schools, she may also be upset that she is leaving behind a best friend, or several good friends. See what you can do to make this transition less painful.

Maybe you can invite over some of her old friends for a pizza supper, or transport her back to where you did live so she can visit these friends.

At the very least, encourage her to stay in touch with them.

Also let her know that she will make new friends. It just takes time.

If you had something similar happen to you when you were growing up, take the time to share your story with her.

Try to get in touch with the feelings she may have. She probably feels lonely and/or jealous that her old friends may have new friends already to share with. These are very human feelings and you can do her a great service by sharing feelings you have had at times growing up and how they were resolved.

You daughter may also be scared that the work this year will be too hard for her. If she has already started school and complains it is too hard sit down with her and see what she is referring to.

Sometimes a child is correct and may need your help to go into school with her and sit down with her teacher or guidance counselor to see if the work is on the right level for her. Take her seriously. Even if she is exaggerating, remember it feels real to her for now.

Being your daughter’s ally can really help her. She doesn’t have the perspective we have as grown-ups to know that things feel strange when they are new. Help her understand that we are resilient to most situations and after awhile she will feel herself again and also feel relaxed and at ease in her new environment.

And best of all, with all of the above, by being your daughter’s ally, the two of you will grow even closer as you show you really care and you take the time to talk to her.

Boredom – the best thing since sliced bread

The truth for girls  Can you believe that Summer vacation is almost over? As the month of August rolls in there are kids  who are saying things like, “I’m bored. I have nothing to play with or no one to do stuff with.” It’s common. No matter matter how many games or items someone has. No matter how social someone is. No matter even how busy a person is, people of all ages can still get bored for lots of reasons.

Regardless of your age, the first thing to remember is that you don’t have to be doing something all the time. It’s perfectly fine to have days or just hours when you do absolutely nothing. For most people though, doing nothing equates to being bored. Whatever you call it, having down time where your mind can just wander or not think about anything is very healthy!

Instead of replacing the boredom with the latest and greatest item, try some of these suggestions next time you or someone in your family says, “I’m bored.”

Allow yourself to simply rest without any interruptions.
Give your brain the opportunity to be creative. Sometimes the best ideas happen when you daydream.
If you normally don’t read for pleasure, pick up a book again. And I mean a real, printed book because there is something unique about actually turning paper pages versus touching a button to turn an electronic page.
Call (not text) an old friend you haven’t spoken with in a long time. It’s amazing how connecting with people can give you a positive boost. Too many people today get wrapped up in their virtual world and forget the importance and benefits of actually talking with another human being.
Look through photo albums. Most people still have those even if they are from years ago. Reminiscing is good for the mind, body, and soul.
Make a list of everything you appreciate. If your boredom is from being tired of what you have or what you are doing, taking a look at the good things in your life can help.
Volunteer. Doing something for others without expecting anything in return is very humbling and rewarding. After doing that, you may look at boredom very differently.
Make a bucket list. Many people rush through life so busy that they never take time to enjoy it.
Use your imagination. For kids, this could be pulling out toys from when they were little. A teenager would build something quite different with Tinker Toys or Lincoln Logs than they did when they were four or five. Have family activity night if you don’t already. This doesn’t mean watching TV or everyone playing on their own electronic sitting in the same room. It means doing an activity together.
Enjoy and explore nature. Remember the joke, “He has nothing to do so he’s watching the grass grow?” It’s not as silly as it sounds. If you’ve ever watched a spider spin a web or any other insect do what they naturally do, observing nature can do wonders for boredom. Basically, it’s the same idea as “Stop and smell the roses.”
It seems like the more we have, the easier it is for people get bored and the more likely people are to want more and more.

So try something different and appreciate the boredom occasionally.

Find out more at http://www.thetruthforgirls.com/

You can purchase The Truth at http://www.amazon.com/Truth-Girl-Smart-Know-Everything/dp/0979895200?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1205256246&sr=1-1

Being Homesick is Natural

For many kids of all ages summer is a time to venture away from home. For all children there is the first time. This they may have experienced on their first day of school. For some children separation from parents or a house for a few hours is just fine. For other children it is a much greater struggle. Now when summer comes around sending children off for even just a week for what is considered “a taste of sleep away camp” can and should be a great experience. But believe it or not, many children, to a certain degree get home sick.
What is it about the home that makes our children become homesick when they are away from home? Let’s take a look at the lyrics of the song Home from the Musical “The Wiz” and see what Dorothy sang when she was far away from home:
When I think of home I think of a place
Where there’s love overflowing
I wish I was home I wish I was back there
With the things I’ve been knowin’
Wind that makes the tall grass bend into leaning
Suddenly the raindrops that fall they have a meaning
Sprinkling the scene
Makes it all clean
Maybe there’s a chance for me to go back
Now that I have some direction
It would sure be nice to back home
Where there’s love and affection
And just maybe I can convince time to slow up
Giving me enough time in my life to grow up
Time be my friend
Let me start again
Living here in this brand new world might be a fantasy
But it’s taught me to love so it’s real to me
And I’ve learned that we must look inside our hearts to find
A world full of love like yours and mine
Like home
If your child’s been to sleep-away camp before, was their homesickness manageable? If this will be your child’s first overnight camp experience, are you overly concerned about how they will fair?
Before sending your child off to camp there are a few things you can do to help your child beat homesickness
  • Tell your child homesickness is normal, that it means he or she has a home that he or she loves.
  • Empathize with your child’s fears, but do not get infected by them.
  • Express confidence in your child’s resilience and admiration for his or her courage in going to camp.
  • Tell your child you are sure he or she will get help from counselors and friends when needed.
  • And, please, tell your children you want them to have fun. Children need to go off to camp with your blessing, not your anxiety.

Making plans for the summer – Two sides of the same coin (Parent and child)

Side one: Lately I feel that the amount of work I’m expected to do seems to continually grow. I do not know if it because of our shrinking workforce or because of the economy picking up. I can’t wait to take my 3 week vacation at the end of July. I just keep counting down the days. I’m so excited to be spending some quality time with my family. I know they will love it!.I can’t wait to do so many great activities with my kids when we arrive at the Islands. Our last family vacation has been too long ago. The truth is that I’m really looking forward to just leaving my work behind and focus on what’s really important to me.

The flip side: I just can’t believe how my parents are trying to mess up my life! Of all the times that they chose to go on vacation did it have to be in the middle of the summer? I’m going to be missing out hanging out with my best friends and staying up all night just catching up on conversations! What am I supposed to do for 3 weeks at this resort? There not even a mall nearby! I hope I’ll be able to use my phone or talk to my friends on the Internet. Hello, does anyone care what I want to do with my time? I’m tired of seeing dad “stressed out” all the time when he comes home. What’s it going to be like going away with him? And my siblings? Don’t get me wrong, I love them but I need to have some space of my own! After all, I’m not their little girl anymore. And that’s the truth

Seven Ways To Help Our Tween and Teens Stay Healthy

Recent reports have noting that movie theaters are losing money as the result of being forced to change the seats in the cinemas from 19 inches wide to 21 inches wide gave me a momentary chuckle but then left me thinking about weight issues that kids, and especially tweens and young teens have to deal with. All of these issues, including eating disorder syndromes, are magnified for tweens and young teens, as they develop emotionally and physically, while confronting social, academic and peer pressures.
Here is a list of seven ways to help our kids from the time they are very young to feel comfortable in their own bodies by the time they are tweens and teens. Let me know what you think of the list!

1. Praise your children for their positive actions, behaviors and words. Make it clear that their response to life as a good citizen and a loving family member is much more important than their looks or body type.

2. Don’t compare or judge people’s looks or bodies. Rather point out a person’s fine character trait or a good deed that a person has done. Your children are always listening to you and what you say, even if you think they are blocking you out! Your attitude very much influences how they will perceive others and themselves.

3. Show your children by your own eating habits, that you recognize the need for eating healthy foods. If you are out of control around certain foods and habits, what message is that sending to your kids?

4. Consider planting a small garden or learning more about the foods we eat with your children. This can be a fun activity like visiting a potato chip factory, or something more serious, like learning about the differences between organic farming and non-organic farming.

5. Cook up delicious meals, at least on occasion, and let the kids help. It can be fun to find recipes together and shop for the ingredients as a family outing. Praise them for their help and don’t get caught up in the milk that spills or the egg that fell and cracked on the floor.

6. Enjoy exercising as a family. Going to the gym or doing a sport together can be wonderful. But simply putting on music and dancing around the house or in the kitchen can burn lots of calories and led to laughs, hugs and feeling connected as a family.

7. And of course, if you child is suddenly gaining or losing weight or showing any form of eating disorder, talk to his or her doctor immediately.

Here is a Page From The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) that has only appeared in the Chinese Edition of the Book!

We get about three hours of homework a night. I hate having so much work to do at home. I can’t stand it. I can hardly play outside anymore. I can’t ride my bike or roller skate, either. It is awful.
Sometimes I get in such a bad mood that I stand up on my bed and jump up and down like a wild woman. And then I hold my breath and just feel so angry inside.
My mother tells me to stop. Yesterday she got really scared cause I wouldn’t stop and I kept holding my breath on and off.
She went to the telephone and called her friend who is a nurse and asked her what to do. I got really scared when I heard her say that it would be ok for Jane to come over. I didn’t want her friend to see me being that crazy.
I got off my bed and stopped.
My mom called out to me, “Are you ok? Does Jane need to come over?”
I said, “I’m alright. I don’t want her to come over.”
So she didn’t. Then I just started to cry and cry and my mom held me. My brother looked frightened and ran outside. My mom didn’t even care about him. She just cuddled me and told me it would be alright.
She even told me that she and my father would go in to school and talk to the teacher and see why there is so much homework. And she would write me a note so that I could just go to bed tonight and not finish the homework. She also told me that Jane said that girls my age are very sensitive and can get upset really easily.
She really made me feel better. I felt tired and miserable from all the crying but I wasn’t so angry anymore.
I love my mother so much. She is so good to me, even though I know she hates me practicing my violin. And that’s the truth.

GIRL SCOUT TROOP 1805 CREATES Anti-bullying Message!

I was so impressed to read about Troop 1805 out of Oceanport, New Jersey, in The Link News from November 4, 2010.  The Scouts acted on their own.  They hung anti-bullying posters in their school, purchased special bracelets for students who sign on to an anti-bullying pledge and even bought enough bracelets so the campaign can continue after they move on and graduate from the Maple Place School.
So far lots of kids at school have taken the anti-bullying pledge and put their signatures to the pledge sheet.
This is wonderful.  We need our kids to not only feel the pain of what it means to be hurt by a bully, but to care enough to influence other youngsters.  We often listen more to our peers than those of another generation.  This is a great example of smart grass roots action!
Good luck, Troop 1805!  You never know, your efforts may save the emotions and/or life of another youngster.